Trooper Tony Watts with the Kentucky State Police said that preliminary investigation showed that there were three men shot and that everybody involved in the accident were at the scene. Watts declined to release any names until the families had been notified, however, witnesses and other news outlets are saying that the two victims were District One Magistrate Jimmy Darrel Neace, who was in his second term as magistrate, and county employee Lewallen Caudill.
Witnesses say that Jerry Fugate opened fire on Neace and Caudill and then turned the gun on himself.
Quinnton Combs and his wife were getting gas at the time of the shooting and say that they saw the entire incident.
“Me and my wife had just pulled up here to pump some gas and she had stepped out of the truck and I was going to pump it while she went in to pay for it when we heard a gun shot. When we turned around, we didn’t see the first guy get shot, but when we turned around we witnessed the second guy being shot and then he turned the gun on himself and killed himself.”
Tony Eversole, Chief Deputy with the Perry County Sherrif’s Office said that all three men were shot with a Remmington 870 12 gauge in what appeared to be a homicide/suicide.
Combs said that when he and his wife pulled into the gas station the three men were standing in the parking lot and appeared to be talking.
“They were already there when we pulled in. They were all three standing there. We never heard no argument or anything like that. I don’t know if they were arguing or what, but about the time that I got out of the truck I heard the first gun shot. My wife ran in the store and told them to call 911,” he said.
Ben Combs, the owner of the store, said that he didn’t actually see the shooting, but he heard the shots and went outside to see what was going on and when he did he saw the three men, all of whom he recognized, lying on the ground.
“I heard three loud shots. Actually at first, I thought it was a vehicle had a tire go out or back fire, but after that somebody, I don’t remember who it was, said ‘There’s a killing out there’ and I ran out. When I got there it had already happened. When I got outside I saw three bodies laying there. I knew them all three well. They were all here all the time,” Ben Combs said.
Perry County Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble said that Neace and Caudill along with some other men had been in Sam’s Branch preparing a road to be blacktopped and had come to the convience store to have lunch, which is something they did often.
“They were at Sam’s Branch preparing a road to be blacktopped and they came down to Ben’s to eat,” Noble said.
The shooting has left everyone in shock and asking why. Friends and family members of the three men say they don’t know why something like this would happen.
Noble said, “I don’t know what his intentions were or why he did it. He was a good worker. I don’t know why he did it. He was a truck driver for the county and he went off on compensation with his back. We had never had any problems out of him. Nobody’s ever done any thing to him to cause him to do this.”
Earl Brashear, Magistrate of District Three, said that he was friends with all three of them and doesn’t understand why the shooting occurred.
“All three of them were good friends of mine and there is no reason for something like this to happen. This don’t solve nothing,” he said. “It’s a sad day for Perry County when you can’t come out here and work and get along without something like this happening. There’s no reason for something like this to happen. If you got a problem you can always talk it out and work it out, you don’t have to kill somebody over it. This don’t help nothing.”
Those who knew Caudill and Neace said they were “hard workers” and “fine men” and they have no idea why anyone would want to shoot them.
"I worked with Jim for six-and-half years. Jim was a fine man. He was a fine man. I liked him. We got along good. Jim’s got a little son and that was his life. Anything that boy wanted, that was his life. He helped anybody that needed help. He was a hard worker. He’d just assume to dig a ditch than run a back hoe or whatever,” Brashear said. “Lou was the same way. He was a fine man. He was an operator and he was a good operator. He done his job. There’s nothing hardly you can say in something like this. I knew Lou and all his family and they are good friends of mine and it is a tragic loss to lose a friend like this. Jerry was the same way. He was a good friend too.”
Noble, who was in Clay County when he got the call about the incident, added, “He (Neace) stayed out everyday working, everyday of his life he was out there digging graves and working. I can’t believe this happened. Jim did nothing but help people and Lou, that was all he did was work and help people. I can’t understand why this would happen. The people in this area know what Jim done. They know how hard he worked and they know what he done for Perry County and it’s a great loss. It just takes everything out of you. You try to do what’s right, you try to help the people and it just takes everything away.”
“It’s a sad situation,” Brashear said.